Hundreds rally against Netanyahu in Jerusalem in subdued affair

Demonstrators distribute hundreds of potted flowers to area residents, thanking them for patience; several dozen counter-protesters rally in support of the premier nearby

People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on August 6, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on August 6, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Limited protests were held in Jerusalem Thursday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with several hundred demonstrators gathering outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street.

Several dozen pro-government counter-protesters rallied nearby.

The demonstration, calling on Netanyahu to resign, was far smaller than Saturday’s event that drew some 10,000 people, the largest rally yet. Thursday’s demonstrations have generally been smaller affairs.

The rallies were reported to be calm, with no clashes between the different factions of protesters and cops.

Protests had also been called for Tel Aviv, outside the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, and on highway bridges across the country, but appeared to draw very small numbers.

Large-scale protests are once against expected on Saturday night.

Protesters have for weeks been holding regular rallies on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, as well as in Tel Aviv and other areas, calling on the premier to resign due to his indictment on corruption charges. They have been joined by people protesting the government’s economic policies during the coronavirus pandemic, with crowds in the thousands and rising.

People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, on August 6, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police told the High Court of Justice on Thursday that it believed the court should reject a petition against the demonstrations by dozens of residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods Rehavia and Talbieh, who are seething over the weekly protests near their homes.

Siding with the demonstrators, police told the court that any attempts to curtail the rallies, held several times weekly, would impinge on the freedom to protest.

Police said they would therefore not place a cap on the number of participants, or relocate the protests elsewhere. The force also rebuffed a call to restrict the rallies due to health fears amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Walla news site reported that in response to the petition, some protesters on Thursday visited homes near Balfour Street and handed out some 1,500 potted flowers to residents, with notes thanking them for their patience.

Netanyahu and his supporters have strongly condemned the protesters, branding them “anarchists.”

Netanyahu is on trial for a series of cases in which he allegedly received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and traded regulatory favors with media moguls for more favorable coverage of himself and his family. The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing, accusing the media and law enforcement of a witch hunt to oust him from office.

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